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How Shell, Oil majors neglected Ugbokodo community in Delta State for 57 years as Reps begin hearing of petition

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The people of Ugbokodo community in Delta State, South-South, Nigeria have cried of neglect by the multinational Oil and Gas companies operating within the community.

In a petition which was signed by the Legal Adviser, O. J. Oghenejakpor, Esq, and two others and addressed to the House of Representatives Committee on Public Petitions, the Community lamented that its environment has been neglected as well as the people in the last 57 years, the oil having been first explored in October, 1964.

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In the petition dated 4th March, 2021, a copy of which was made available to CAPITAL POST in Abuja on Thursday, pointed out that the oil and gas companies involved in the neglect of oil producing community are: Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC), Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and their subsidiaries, Nigeria Gas Company Limited (NGC), Pipeline and Products Marketing Company (PPMC), Warri Refinery and Petrochemical Company Limited, SEPLAT Petroleum Development Company Limited and Heritage Energy Operations Limited. adsbygoogle || []).push({});

Acting on the petition, the House Committee on Public Petitions, Hon. Jerry Alagbaoso vowed that the Committee which opened the hearing of the petition on Thursday at the House of Representatives, would pursue the case to ensure that justice is served.

But Barrister O.J. Oghenejakpor who briefed the House Committee on the travails of the people of Ugbokodo Community said, though, the community is located at the brinks of Warri River, it is the largest land owning community hosting Oil and Gas facilties in Delta State.

According to him, the people of Ugbokodo are Okpe-Urhobo by tribe and dialect with their main traditional occupation as fishing and farming, an occupation made impossible now by oil spill which has occassioned environmental pollution and land degradation.

The petition further revealed that the plight of people worsened the more as Itsekiri community at a point interfered with the rights of Ugbokodo community for selfish reasons.

Part of the petition reads:

“Ugokodo Community shares boundary with Adjaitan an Itsekiri Community who changed their name to Egbokodo Itsekiri for the purpose of interfering with the rights of Ugbokodo Community, Ubeji and Ifie Communities also of Itsekiri tribe and Oteghele of Agbasa Kingdom respectively on the other side of the river which has a primary and secondary school built by communal effort in the 50s and 70s respectively.”

The petition averred that Ugbokodo community was the only oil producing community that is not impacted despite its contribution to the national economy which stood at 11.4%.

It said: “It is interesting to note that Ugbokodo is the only Oil producing community not impacted, but with ground oil and.gas installations (AGI) with value and contributing to the Nigerian National Economy from the popularly called “Rapele Oil Field”, from which the community contributes about 11.4% oil revenue annually to the Federal Government of Nigeria since 1964.

“It’s sad to note that both Shell and her takeovers – Seplat, NPDC and Heritage Energy Operation Service Limited, and even the State and Federal government have with impunity neglected this community over the years.”

The petitioners stressed that the Federal government owned NNPC which controls major oil installations of its subsidiaries as well as Oil companies as their joint ventures was complicit in the neglect of the community. Noting that the Nigeria Gas Limited has its Gas line through Ugbokodo Community to Escravos which has caused series of explosions, damages causing deaths in Ugbokodo Community without compensation or reparation. It stressed that Warri Refinery and Petrochemical Company Limited had caused gas flaring with its resultant pollution and deposit of black substances in the waters, houses and properties that have been adversely affected.

However, Barrister O.J. Oghenejakpor who was accompanied to the House of Representatives for a public hearing with the Chairman of Ugbokodo Community National Conference, Evang. Samuel Eseadefe Ogholemu and member of the Elders in Council, Chief (Capt) Clifford Ikpikpini, insisted on the lawmakers’ intervention towards finding solution to the 57 years neglect of oil host community without delay.

The petitioners want the lower chamber of the National Assembly to prevail on the SPDC, NODC, NNPC, Nigeria Gas Company Limited, WRPC with joint ventures of SEPLAT and Heritage Enerfy Operations Services Limited to pay and meet the demands of the Ugbokodo Community immediately.

The demands which were contained in the petition are:
“The sum of $US 500 million as compensation for the oil explosion which occurred as a result as a result of the equipment failure of the Nigeria Gas Company Limited.”

“The sum of $US 300 million for the compensation of environmental degradation, ecological destruction which affected the lifespan and wellbeing of the people of Ugokodo Community andmdesth of its members resulting from oil spillage, exploration and exploitation from 1964 till date.

“An order for SPDC, NNPC and its subsidiaries including WRPC to embark on a total cleanup of the Ugbokodo community.

“An order urging Heritage Energy Operation Company Limited to abide by the terms of the contract of Surveillance of oil facilities within Ugbokodo territory as contained in the Memorandum of Understanding and pay all outstanding debts owed to the community immediately and stop the interference of Ocean Marine Services in Ugbokodo Community.

“An order requesting SPDC, NNPC, and its subsidiaries to develop a training and employment model for indigenes of Ugbokodo community.

“An order to direct SPDC, NNPC and its subsidiaries and joint ventures to develop a robust project plan for Ugbokodo community.

“To start immediately, the building of a Civic centre and a standard International Market which Nigeria Gas Company Limited promised Ugbokodo community and for which projects, the Community had.secured a Certificate of Occupancy over the land with the complete drawing of the market done at the request of Nigeria Gas Limited, but which they have abandoned.

Speaking with CAPITAL POST, the Chairman, House Committee on Public Petitions, Hon. Jerry and noted that they were committed to justice, adding that as the case progresses, the Committee would pay oversight visit to the community in due course.

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